Back in 2013, Performance Consultant Chris Neville and the team at Swindon Town FC combined their match analysis system with Catapult to design a return to training and play protocol for one of their injured players.
“We assessed the most demanding period of a match when the player was fit, and recreated the period on the training pitch using Catapult metrics to satisfy the players caution and mindset. The player returned to training and matches knowing that he was sufficiently recovered and prepared for the most demanding elements of his position.
“It is important to understand that player tracking systems provide a valuable insight into external training load and training and match play demand. This insight, when combined with other stress factors (cardiac demand, strength and power capabilities, injury histories, health and wellness and muscular loading) can provide practitioners with data to assess injury risk. Specifically, we use Catapult in an acute:chronic sense, providing us with the ability to control rapid increases or decreases in training demand across various metrics.
“Planning a periodised approach to our training week and month allows us to optimise the demands during training. By using Catapult during matches, we have gained an insight into what a typical match looks like and use this as a baseline for working at percentages during the training week.
“As football is a sport combining a number of metrics, I have always tried to gain a global view of the relevant metrics associated with individual players, sub units and team play. This has recently extended to understanding more about goalkeeper metrics. Specifically, we will use total distances, speed variations, accelerations and decelerations, directional changes and for goalkeepers, dive related information.
“We have used Catapult specifically for injury type. On a player’s return to field-based activity, volume training is assessed and then position and injury-specific metrics are assessed to gauge a players suitable return date. For example, following an ankle injury, assessing a players ability to accelerate, decelerate, change direction may be important. Following a muscle injury, progressing speed capabilities may be more appropriate.
“The overall development of tracking systems have provided extremely valuable insights into field based training load assessment, return to play following injury and more recently match play metrics. Catapult are a global leader in development of this technology and have consistently displayed innovation in providing practitioners with solution options.
It provides a clear understanding and reliable information to enable us to make informed decisions in player development and injury prevention. We can then use the data to support internal stakeholders.”